- Capitalism and Alternatives -

More of the same.

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( Democratic Socialists of America, MA, USA ) on September 17, 1999 at 00:11:32:

In Reply to: It hasn't worked. posted by Darcy Carter on September 16, 1999 at 20:37:43:

: India. Yes. What a thoroughly well organised and prosperous state, the socialist dream has eradicated poverty, children are all well clothed, healthy and educated, there is universal education and health care and everyone glows with a sense of general well being. Get a grip.

You are evidently hungry for some statsitics. Here they come. Kerala, run by Communists on and off, is not one of India's wealthier states. Yet, its life expectancy is 70 years, compared with 76 in AMerica. Its literacy rate is 95%, same as America's. Its infant mortality is less than half that of teh Indian average. Its birth rate is lower than America's. There is full religious tolerance (population is 60% Hindu, 20% Muslim, 20% Catholic, with a few Jews and Buddhists). there is substantial income equality and caste discrimination has largely been abolished. As in the rest of India, tehre is heavy, heavy affirmative action, but kerala also has largely eradicated gender discrimination. In short, the Communists in Kerala have achieved First World social indicators at a fraction of the cost. The real difference is that since Kerala's path to achieving thsi socialist paradise was so much cheaper, itr is far more likely to be sustainable in the long run than America's.

: : : You would observe that we who are lucky enough to live in Western democracies, even if we are poor by the standards of these societies, live a life of paradise compared to the vast majority of those from the rest of the world.

: : Really? Were you perchance aware that a Cuban on average lives longer than an American, a Shanghainese longer than a New Yorker, and a black man from Sao Tome longer than a black man from Harlem. Or that starvation and destitution are rare in any genuine socialist / communist society?

: That says more about the American diet and Harlem drug / gang culture amongst young males than it does about socialism.

Yes, well how come crime seems toi flourish under capitalism. is it because these people are alienated by teh inequality in their society? Or because caapitalism subtly rewards selfishness and acquisitiveness? Or both?

:Have you ever been to Cuba? THE PEOPLE IN CUBA HAVE NOTHING. They are very, very poor.

Nonsense. Their standard of living is a hell fo a lot higher than opther Latin American countries taht aren't exploited by a US embargo. Cuba's life expectancy is better than America's. their hEALTH CARE and literacy are better than America's. College education is free. Their nutritional standards, as long as tehy got Soviet aid, was better than Americas. Can you argue with these facts?

: And China - well, overalls and political repression. Wonderful. If I lived there, I don't think i'd want to live that long.

China is not one of my examples. Please read what I wrote.

:These silly examples are to do with diet etc.

Really? Then how come Puerto Ricans don't live as long as Cubans? Maybe because they have US companeis pouring hormones and pesticides into their island?

:Of course someone who lives on rice and fish is likely to live to a ripe old age even without top-class medical care. So what?

The Keralites' diet is similar to that of people in Bombay, yet they live much longer.....so?

: Where are these "genuine communist societies" that offer such living conditions? I might go and live there.

Kerala is probably one of the ebst surviving examples.

: : : Communism has been tried in case you have been living in a box all of your life:

: :
: : Most of those experiments weren't genuine communism, the ones that did make an effort at democratic communism generally succeeded.

: Like where?

Kerala, Nicaragua, Burkina Faso, Chile, Emilia-Romagna, Grenada, Zimbabwe, Namibia, teh Seychelles....shall I continue?

: Like so many socialists, it's the "but it wasn't genuine communism" line. Doesn't this tell you anything? - "genuine communism" as you probably imagine it is impossible. There's been enough attempts.

Many of them worked, as I said above. Did you not read the text?

: If it was going to work, it would have worked by now.

But id did. Please see above.

:You don't hear capitalists bemoaning the ruin of a string of countries by their system and then saying "oh, but that wasn't genuine capitalism."

Wrong. Gee and otehrs are constantly saying of Chile, the Belgian Congo, Amazonia, and other hellholes, "that's not true capitalism."

: : Look at what social indicators like life expectancy, infant mortality, education, as well as things like inequality and satisfaction with the government, did during genuine democratic-communist or socialist revolutions. Such as the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, the parliamentary communism in Kerala or Bengal, the Sankaraist Revolution in Burkina Faso, or the Marxists in Namibia or Zimbabwe. Invariably conditions becme better in every regard. Even some states which are not fully democratic, like Cuba and Laos, still have made immense steps forward that put teh rest of teh world to shame.

: Cuba? Laos? Namimbia? Burkina Faso? Are you mad?

Listen to what I said.

:The latter is the poorest country in the world.

No, Sierra Leone is, capitalist I may add. Burkian Faso is poor. That's not the point. It become infinitely bettre under teh communist Sankara regime. that is the point. Sankara vaccinated 60% of children in 2 weeks, eliminated onchocerciasis, made the biggest public health advances in Africa, promoted reforestation and womens' rights, equalized incomes, saw the economy grow at a time when most African economies shrank, saw education levels rise 33%, built a railroad with volunteeer labor, and involved the people directly in their government. If he had remained in power fro another 15 years, Burkina woudl today be in a far better position. But he was assassinated by his clsoe friend./

:Namibia is currently a very frightening war zone patrolled by very unfriendly men with big guns.

I thionk you're confusing it with angola. Namibia is a democratoic-Marxist state, teh most liberal state in Africa, under Pres. Sam Nujoma.

: The people of Cuba are extremely poor, even if they are educated to a sufficient standard to read state propoganda and Loas - well, if that's an improvement I'd hate to have seen what it was like before.

Yes, it was terrible before. Cuba, as I stated, is in many ways above US levels of social indicators.

: If that's the best you can come up with I really do think you're badly struggling.

You are free to your opinion.

: : : - it caused more misery than any other human construct in history (apart from religion).

: : Great, an atheist anti-communist, the worst of both worlds.

: A communist zealot. You're a reall believer in the freedom of the individual, aren't you?

I believe in socialist democracy, which enbsures true freedom. Sweden to\day is the freest country in teh world, not the capitalist US.

: : : It might interest you to know that 170 million people have been killed, this century, by their own governments. The majority of these are in countries that were, or still are, communist.

: : Please, don't make me laugh. Was it communism that causes 40 million people a year to starve to death, by making your access to food dependent on the amount of money you wield? Was it communism that was responsible for the three bloodiest slaughters of the century, measured by % of population killed. (Germans in Namibia, Belgians in the Congo, and Indonesia in East Timor.) Was it communism that is responsible for the misery and inequality found in much of teh 3rd world today. Think about this for a moment, and you will see that the anwwers are "no, no, no."

: I was talking about what people's own governments had done to them. I am not blaming all of the world's ills on communism. In terms of A human construct, I stand by what I'd said. External wars are hardly an institution in the way that communism is. War has been with us through human history.

Capitalism is an institution,a nd it kills 40 million people a year through deprivation, as well as directly murdering millions of Indonesians, Guatemalans, Brazilians, Congolese, Namibians, Chinese, Indians, Tasmanians.....shall i go on?

:The reason it will not happen again between 2 capitalist states is that those states / citizens have too much to loose under capitalism.

Erm, that's what they said in 1914. Peru and Ecuador are both capitalist, they fought four years ago. Britain and Argentina were right-wing capitalist, they fought in 1982.

: In terms of internal repression, which is what I was talking about, the fact is that communist China and Russia killed, between them, nearly 100 million OF THEIR OWN CITIZENS this century.

1. They weren't true communist.
2. they had a large population abse to select from. Look at the percent of population killed, and you will see that teh vast majority of the top murderers are capitalist stated. Indonesia, Germany, Bekgium, Brazil, etcetera.

: Communism has not been responsible for all the misery in the world, but it certainly hasn't helped.

Of course it has. Communist pressure led to teh constructionaof social democracy and teh welfare state in Europe and teh New Deal. Communim brought great progress to country after counrty, especially in India. That's why India will not choose capitalism.

:The reason much of the world is so poor today is that the political systems governing many countries are too corrupt to initiate a proper capitalist democracy.

1. "Proper" capitalism? How is taht any different from saying "true" communism? If the Belgian Congo wasn't capitalism, then Stalin's Russia was not communism.
2. Excuses, excsues.
3. Capitalist democracy, in teh strict sense, is an oxymoron. Western countreis are only democratic insofar as they limit capitalism's power, e.g. teh welfare state, jjudicial equiality, erttcetra.

: It certainly won't be communism. I don't remember many nations, or people, fighting to get into the Eastern block during the Cold War to escape capitalist tryanny, do you? (although they did have to buid that big wall thingy in Berlin to prevent capitalist stooges from decadent Berlin escaping into the workers' paradise of East Germany, didn't they...)

Guatemala is more capitalist than the US, and lotys of Guatemalans attempetd to excape to America in teh '80-s, but were turned back to be killed because Guatemala was a "freindly" dictatorship.

: : Yes, a few communist leeaders committed genocides in the name of communism. Such atrocities as the extermination of Native Americans, Tasmanians, and others were committed to further capitalism. But of course in neither case do these tell us anything about the ideology involved. People will kill in the name of virtually everything. Stalinism is not Communism, just as the Inquisition was not Catholicism.

: Of Couse! Stalinism is not communism. Just like Thatcherism is not capitalism and by 2001 we'll all be living in cities on the moon!

Was the Belgian Congo capitalist? What about the genocidal Rubber industry in Brazil? Or EL Salvador with its death squads? I'm waiting.

: How convenient. What the inquisition has to do with it I don't know, but the agressive form of doctrinal enforcement practosed by it certainly was part of Catholicism. Or was Torcomada just in it for a laugh?

Your allusions remind me of Dostoevesyky. Catholicism has nbothing to do with teh Inquisition; it's about liberation, salvation, and service to God.

: : The valid comparison between communism and capitalism is that states which go from capitalism to social tend to do better in terms of standard of living while those that go from socialism to capitalism invariably see the standard of living fall.

: I'd like to see your fugures on that. States which have recently become capitalist seem to be doing very nicely on the whole (Japan / Singapore and Taiwan compared to China? Chile got rid of their communist lunatics in the 1970s and the standard of living has increased dramatically. Or perhaps you are thinking of that great Eutopia, North Korea, whose people are probably starving but don't have the political freedom to tell anyone.

Guyana, Burkina Faso, Kerala, Bengal, Sri Lanka, Cuba, Sao Tome, Chile, Grenada, Cape Verde, Namibia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania, Vietnam, Laos, Emilia-Romagna, Yugoslavia, Nicaragua, Scandinavia, all did better after becoming socialist or communist. Chile post-'73, Nicaragua post '90, Jamaica and Eastern Europe, all of which went from communsim or socialism to capitalism, are amnong teh efw regions of teh world taht have actually seen living standards FALL. REad the UN Human Development Index to back me up on this one.

: : : Go and live in Cambodia for 12 months (which had the benefit of a great "socialist" revolution a few years ago) and let us all know how you got on. I'm msure you'd find grinding poverty, disease, starvation, early death and the threat arbitrary arrest and / or violence a welcome change from the rigors political freedom and affluence.

: : 1. Cambodia was not socialist. Pol Pot killed people if they didn't harvest enough rice. That takes the capitalist ideal of paying for performance to its disgustsing extreme, and is logically incompatible with communism.

: : 2. Pol Pot said "I am not a communist".

: : 3. There is such a thing as democratic communism, in case you weren't aware. It is logically disingenuous to use Cambodia as an example of communism, and not to mention Nicaragua, Kerala, etc. Cambodia represented, at ebst, one face; Nicaragua represented another.

: OK. So even if we exclude Cambodia from our little Communist hall of fame, if you're already on Namibia and Burkina Faso after 4 countries, it's not looking good, is it?

I believe I delat with thios abve. By teh way, NAmibia is one of the ebst off counrties in Africa.

: And Nicaragua - hardly a by word for political stability and prosperity. would you want to live there? I bloody know I wouldn't.

It was very good while iot was communist,. I might ahve lives tehre then. Since 1990 it ahs gone to hell ina handbasket. Thanks to Mr. Reagan and Lady Chamorro, of course.

Just face it - communism as it works in the real world (not in some text book) causes does not function to creat comfort or freedom for its people. There is no point saying that this or that country wasn't really communist or that it could work if this, that or the other were the case.

: It hasn't worked. I don't think we need another Soviet Union and the human suffering that goes with it to prove that.

If you won';t look at statistics or carefully read my arguments, that is your right. Believe whatever you wish.

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